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“Three minutes until we shower you with knowledge and grow the technology ecosystem!"

This, from Jason Goldlist, the booming, beer-toting, hover board-riding TechToronto Meetup host, as he ushers the last chatty stragglers into the auditorium at RBC WaterPark Place. It’s three minutes until 7:00. They’re techies—these things run on time.

If you’re new to the tech industry or to Toronto, TechToronto is a local Meetup group that looks to foster and grow the local tech community. As the largest technology hub in Canada, Toronto is home to over tech 11,500 firms and 161,000 workers (and this doesn’t include the thousands working in tech positions in related sectors, such as financial services). So events like this are great opportunities to network, learn, and get to know others working in the local industry.

“We started TechTO in an effort to provide grassroots support to a sector that employs 400,000+ people in Toronto,” says Goldlist. “While the sector is growing rapidly, more could be done to improve the awareness of the sector, talent level and connectivity of the sector.”

And indeed, the packed reception area was abuzz with people from all walks of the tech industry—developers, analysts, engineers, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between. With beer flowing and stacks of steaming pizza boxes arriving, there was lots of meeting and greeting going on Monday night.

Once dubbed by blogto.com as the ‘”best place in Toronto to find a boyfriend,” TechToronto may be one of the best places to meet someone period. This Meetup is an exceptionally social gathering of enthusiastic, passionate, and just plain friendly tech folks—whether you’re looking for a new job, a new hire, a new partner or a new friend.

If this is a networking sandwich, the middle is knowledge.

The emphasis on networking is overt, what with the bustling reception area, 15-minute “Ask an Expert” breakout sessions, and a 5-minute “Meet Your Neighbour” hiatus between presentations. Quite frankly, this isn’t a place to come and sit by yourself.

As Jason Goldlist, the host of the evening said from atop his hover board, “random collisions make the community stronger.” So networking isn’t just for the benefit of the individual – it’s in the best interest of the tech community as a whole.

But this isn’t just an event to meet other people. While a valuable component, making connections is just one part of the, um, sandwich. The meat of the evening is the 5 x 5s – five presentations that are (more or less) five minutes each – from innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders in the tech industry.

At this particular meetup, the 600-person, standing-room only crowd was treated to talks by Damien Véran from SlimCutMedia who used Drake’s lyrics to cleverly showcase how to get your company off the ground; Joelle MacPhee from Ooka Island, whose genuine, captivating presentation covered the need to recognize your skills and weaknesses in order to build a strong startup; Vitaly Pecherskiy from StackAdapt who said that to build a better business you must attack the core of your competitors; Benjamin Alarie from Blue J Legal who has launched a machine-learning startup to provide tax law solutions; and Saul Colt previously from ZipCar, Freshbooks and Hubba who initially wanted to give his five-minute presentation about how five minutes wasn’t long enough to talk about anything (he instead spoke convincingly about the power of influence, marketing as magic and the importance of staying true to your first 100 customers).

After the “formal” portion of the evening, those interested could join the brief pilgrimage to the Amsterdam BrewHouse for the after-party—where more networking would be encouraged and facilitated.

For anyone in tech, looking to get into tech, or seeking great tech minds, the monthly TechToronto Meetup is the place to be. Community-focused and Toronto-passionate, the message is clear: Don’t leave for the valley. Stay here and grow your business, build your network, and connect with other big thinkers. Just be prepared to talk, share, eat, drink and learn.

And maybe go into work late the next day.